return when dumped Later, coffee became popular on North American shores, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my favourite. I’ve been paying to try coffee shops, but between the price and the taste, it feels like a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of thing.
Acclaimed Japanese manufacturer Hario, which makes a variety of inexpensive gadgets for brewing and serving pour over coffee, helped me realize that my ambivalence was just a big misunderstanding. For the uninitiated, pour over coffee is a bit like handcrafted drip coffee. You typically use a gooseneck jug to pour a thin stream of hot water over a basket or cone filled with coffee grounds, often dividing the stream into a series of precise pours and pauses over several minutes. It’s labor intensive, but the results can be stunning.
I’ve asked Hario to lend me a V60 dripper ($12 and up) and a few newer pours: Mugen ($13), Switch ($44 and up), and Drip-Assist ($14).
One of the classics in the coffee world, the V60 is a ribbed cone with a formidably large hole in the bottom and a platform that can be used to sit on top of the brewing vessel. Hario sells paper filters that fit the unique conical shape of the V60. The Mugen—officially known as the V60 One Pour Dripper Mugen—gets its name from a word my Japanese literature professor friend Ted told me that refers to the concept of infinity or infinity. Visually, it’s similar to the V60, but with less ribbing on the interior walls. This design allows you to pour in a relatively quick, steady stream, but still allow enough time for the coffee grounds to contact the water. The Drip-Assist is an accessory that sits on top of the dripper with a set of holes in two concentric rings, making it easier for beginners to get a more consistent pour. Finally, there’s the Switch Immersion Dripper, which is similar to the V60 and has a plug on the bottom that turns the water flow on and off.
Knowing I’d be talking to some experts soon, I focused on getting the hang of the V60, using instructions from Jessica Easto’s excellent book, craft coffee. Using a stopwatch, a scale, and a gooseneck jug, I slowly poured water over the grounds, taking time to saturate them, then pouring in precise small circles to ensure that all grounds passed in roughly equal time. In the end, I poured 400 grams of water in about three and a half minutes – most of it drained from the ground. There are thousands of ways to use the V60, and like Easto’s, most are slow, deliberate, and pleasingly meditative. It is neither fast nor convenient. Her instructions were always in front of me when the wine was poured, but I went from “um” to “oh!” in that first French roast, rich, smooth, and smoky.
I still have a lot to learn. It took long enough to make that it wouldn’t be my way of brewing in the morning when I want to brew a lot of coffee with minimal effort, but I like the idea of the pour as my meditative afternoon brew .
Why the change of opinion? When I first tried pour over coffee at a coffee shop, I confused the effect of the bean with the effect of the method, a mistake I’ve made before. I should have started with the dark roast I drink every day, not the exotic beans that tasted completely different.
I’ve tried everything from high-end beans at Café Con Cé in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Costco Columbian, and the results are always surprisingly good. My preferred method is the French press, but pouring works just as well without the buildup or messy cleanup.